Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Gone to APSA -- go read something else I've written.
I'll be at the American Political Science Association annual meeting for the next couple of days. Posting may be light. Rookie APSA attendees should read click here.
In the meantime, devoted fans of danieldrezner.com can click here to read my just-released book from the Council on Foreign Relations, U.S. Trade Strategy: Free Versus Fair. From the press release:
While policymakers agree that promoting trade expansion serves U.S. national interests, they disagree on how to accomplish this goal. U.S.Trade Strategy: Free Versus Fair, by Tufts University’s Daniel W. Drezner, is a primer on trade policy. Written as a policy memo to an American president, this Council Critical Policy Choice (CPC), published by CFR press, does not argue for a particular policy but outlines two distinct options.If you want to save yourself some dough and download the whole thing as a .pdf file, then click here.
Curious Fletcher students who have stumbled onto the blog can also get a sneak preview of my (still subject to last-minute changes) syllabus for DHP P217 -- Global Political Economy -- by clicking here.
You try changing the distribution of power in the IMF!!
Steven Weisman has a story in today's New York Times on U.S. efforts to rejigger the governance of the International Monetary Fund:
In an effort to gain Chinese cooperation on international economic issues, the Bush administration is pushing for China and other developing nations to get more power in the global institution that has played a central role in easing myriad financial crises since the end of World War II.There are a lot of interesting theoretical and policy debates wrapped up in this story:
1) Is it possible to smoothly reconfigure the distribution of power in an international governmental oganization (IGO)? Recent efforts to do so in the U.N. Security Council have borne little fruit -- because the losers from such a change will use their institutional prerogatives to resist such changes.Developing....
Tom Lantos steps into a big foreign policy snafu
Many thanks to Greg Djerejian, Bill Petti, and (especially) Eugene Gholz for articulating why Representative Tom Lantos (D-CA) is f***ing up U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, saving me time and effort.
The lost act of Waiting for Godot
My diavlog with Mickey Kaus is now available at bloggingheads.tv. Among the topics discussed: Hezbollah, Ana Marie Cox's literary style, rational choice theory, Paris Hilton, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Kaus' declining stock as a pundit, sacred beliefs, immigration, Wal-Mart, and the best way to watch bloggingheads.tv. [Did you say Paris Hilton?--ed. Yes, click here if you want to jump to that part of the conversation.]
As for the title of this post, click here for an explanation.
UPDATE: Incidentally, here is the New York Times story on immigration that I discuss in the diavlog. What I say about the percentage of immigrants being Mexican is incorrect. I'm actually glad I'm wrong about this, I might add.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
How bad was Hezbollah hurt?
[I]it is possible that Hezbollah has suffered far greater losses than we know. There is an asymmetry in the reporting of the conflict -- reporters clearly have much greater access to the Israeli military than Hezbollah. While it's in both sides' interest to keep published reports of their losses to a minimum, it's institutionally tougher for Israel to do this.So the war is over now -- how bad was Hezbollah hurt?
I still don't know the answer. According to Greg Djerejian, Hezbollah has acted so swiftly to reconstruct and rebuild the affected portions of Lebanon that, "Hizbollah's vast independent network undermines the state and encourages criticism of the cash-strapped central government."
On the other hand, according to Michael Totten, Hezbollah is acting in a quite chastened manner in South Lebanon:
[T]he most recent development in Hezbollah’s post-war saga is frankly humiliating.I challenge my readers to parse out these contradictory developments.Hizbullah has dismantled 14 outposts on the Israel-Lebanon border near the Shaba Farms, Lebanese security sources said Monday.
UPDATE: Below is an extract from an e-mail relayed to me by someone within the "defense establishment" -- make of it what you will:
1. All serious military analysts in the US, Iran and Israel understand that Hezbollah suffered an enormous defeat on the battlefield.
Monday, August 28, 2006
A post in which I make several calls for action
I see that U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is in the Middle East and asking everyone to behave nicely:
Secretary-General Kofi Annan, currently in Beirut on the first leg of his shuttle diplomacy to the Middle East, has called on Israel to lift its blockade of Lebanon and urged Hizbollah to free two captured Israeli soldiers.Let me add my call to Mr. Annan's.
[And what will that accomplish?--ed. Nothing... which is pretty much what Kofi's request will accomplish. Hmmm..... while I'm at it, in the interest of international goodwill and peace I urgently call on Salma Hayek to meet with me, sans advisors, for at least
If this Financial Times story by Roula Khalaf and Sharmila Devi is correct, I doubt Hezbollah will be listening to Annan anytime soon: "when he toured the devastated areas in the southern Beirut suburbs, Mr Annan was booed by some of the group’s supporters who held pictures of Hassan Nasrallah, the Hizbollah chief."
From Mickey Kaus:
If you haven't been called by a booker to appear on TV all year, and you are not called to appear this weekend--even by a cable channel, even by FOX, even on Saturday--it's fair to say that you will never be called.But, but, but..... I just got a new suit!!
[Don't worry, like Mickey you don't need them--ed.]
The ultimate Nth year
Anyone getting a Ph.D. knows about nth years. These are graduate students who have been around so long that no other student possess the institutional memory to know when they entered the doctoral program. Nth years serve the very useful purpose of scaring the living crap out of the other graduate students, motivating them to finish their dissertations before they unwittingly morph into an nth year themselves.
There are nth years, and at the University of Chicago, there are nth years:
After a long and fruitful career, 79-year-old master’s degree graduate Herbert Baum has returned to the University of Chicago to earn his Ph.D. The oldest person ever to be awarded a doctorate by the University, Baum will receive the degree in economics Friday, Aug. 25.Quite the dissertation committee:
[Milton] Friedman, the Snowden Russell Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in Economics, was one of the faculty members who approved granting Baum a Ph.D. Joining Friedman on the committee were Nobel Prize-winning economists Gary Becker, University Professor in Economics, and committee chair James Heckman. Roger Myerson, the William C. Norby Professor in Economics, also served on the committee.To be fair soon-to-be-Dr. Baum, he's not a true nth year, since he left the university an accomplished something.
Academic readers are invited to share any horror stories they know about nth years.
Sunday, August 27, 2006
Your Katherine Harris update for the week
It appears Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Katherine Harris has stepped into some more hot water, according to the Associated Press:
U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris told a weekly religious journal that God and the nation's founding fathers did not intend the country be "a nation of secular laws" and made other comments that have drawn criticism in recent days.Let's go to the actual Florida Baptist Witness interview to see what she said... yes, yes I believe I have found the problematic answers:
Q: What role do you think people of faith should play in politics and government?Harris' campaign has issued a "statement of clarification" in response to the brouhaha:
In the interview, Harris was speaking to a Christian audience, addressing a common misperception that people of faith should not be actively involved in government. Addressing this Christian publication, Harris provided a statement that explains her deep grounding in Judeo-Christian values.The statement would also appear to explain her shallow grounding in American history.
[This entire post was just an excuse to link to this Ana Marie Cox post, wasn't it?--ed. Nolo contendre.]
Saturday, August 26, 2006
Bernanke on globalization
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke gave an interesting speech entitled, "Global Economic Integration: What's New and What's Not?" that's worth a gander. Here's his answer to what's new:
Each observer will have his or her own perspective, but, to me, four differences between the current wave of global economic integration and past episodes seem most important. First, the scale and pace of the current episode is unprecedented. For example, in recent years, global merchandise exports have been above 20 percent of world gross domestic product, compared with about 8 percent in 1913 and less than 15 percent as recently as 1990; and international financial flows have expanded even more quickly. But these data understate the magnitude of the change that we are now experiencing. The emergence of China, India, and the former communist-bloc countries implies that the greater part of the earth's population is now engaged, at least potentially, in the global economy. There are no historical antecedents for this development. Columbus's voyage to the New World ultimately led to enormous economic change, of course, but the full integration of the New and the Old Worlds took centuries. In contrast, the economic opening of China, which began in earnest less than three decades ago, is proceeding rapidly and, if anything, seems to be accelerating.To me, the most astonishing difference is number two.
This seems like a good weekend topic
Well, I see the blogosphere is ablaze with talk about this Forbes colum by Michael Noer:
Guys: A word of advice. Marry pretty women or ugly ones. Short ones or tall ones. Blondes or brunettes. Just, whatever you do, don't marry a woman with a career.Read the whiole thing and then coment away.
I'm shocked, shocked that Noer's article, "provoked a heated response from both outside and inside our building." Indeed, after a few days, Forbes felt compelled to publish a side-by-side rebuttal by Elizabeth Corcoran.
Forbes' definition of a career woman is extraordinarily broad, including any woman who has a college education, works 35 hours a week, and makes more than $30,000. So, if you define non-career women as all the "undereducated" who work part-time and make less than $30K, it becomes painfully obvious why female careerists are more likely to divorce than non-careerists: They can better afford to get out of an unhappy marriage than their sisters.I'm sure both Noer and Shafer would point to this Jacqueline Mackie Massey Paisley post to support this argument.
Friday, August 25, 2006
Thoughts on Iran and oil
Go check it out.
Who's afraid of peak oil?
With ever-growing attention to the peak oil question, it's worth observing yet again that the U.S. economy has been astonishingly resilient to the high price of oil. Indeed, if I'm reading this chart correctly, the real price of oil has tripled in the last four years -- easily the highest percentage increase in such a short span of time. Last year I wondered if $70 a barrel for oil would have stagflationary effects -- and the answer so far appears to be no.
Raphael Minder reports in the Financial Times that the global economy could be just as resilient:
The world economy will not face a serious inflation problem even if there is a further significant increase in the price of oil, the governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia said on Thursday.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Mary Jordan has a front-pager in the Washington Post detailing how social movements use text messaging to surmount attempts to contain dissent:
Cellphones and text messaging are changing the way political mobilizations are conducted around the world. From Manila to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, andKathmandu, Nepal, protests once publicized on coffeehouse bulletin boards are now organized entirely through text-messaging networks that can reach vast numbers of people in a matter of minutes.The best part of the story documents a real-time Filipino protest designed to overwhelm the police's ability to disperse it:
At 1:30 p.m. on a recent day, Palatino and three students lingered near the doughnut case in the 7-Eleven on a congested corner of Morayta Street. They stood in the air-conditioned cool, cellphones in hand, waiting for a text....Note to self: add to paper on IT's effect on state-society relations.
The Howard Cosell of international news
I am happy to cross the partisan divide and state for the record that I am in 100% agreement with Matthew Yglesias:
I'm not sure if you guys know who Richard Quest is, but suffice it to say that based on my rather small level of watching CNN International while traveling he's far and away the most annoying television news personality on the planet.Naturally, Quest got his own monthly interview show, ‘Quest’, in July.
And if I was the head of CNN, I'd do the same thing -- Quest's voice, mannerisms, and teeth are so.... grating that the overall effect is hypnotic. Whenever I catch him in my travels, it requires a concerted effort to change the channel.
Those dirty Polynesian rats
I'm a big fan of Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel, and still need to read his sequel, Collapse. However, Terry L. Hunt has an essay in the latest issue of The American Scientist that calls into question Diamond's central case study in Collapse -- the decline and fall of the Rapa Nui on Easter Island:
In the prevailing account of the island's past, the native inhabitants—who refer to themselves as the Rapanui and to the island as Rapa Nui—once had a large and thriving society, but they doomed themselves by degrading their environment. According to this version of events, a small group of Polynesian settlers arrived around 800 to 900 A.D., and the island's population grew slowly at first. Around 1200 A.D., their growing numbers and an obsession with building moai led to increased pressure on the environment. By the end of the 17th century, the Rapanui had deforested the island, triggering war, famine and cultural collapse.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Can science solve the stem cell debate?
According to the Financial Times' Clive Cookson, there may be a way to end the ethical debate over stem cell research:
Scientists in the US have created human embryonic stem cells without destroying embryos, a discovery that appears to get round a basic ethical objection to stem cell research.Here's a link to the actual article in Nature.
The FT article does go one to assert that,"hardline critics of embryo research – such as the US Conference of Catholic Bishops – are unlikely to accept the manipulation even of a single embryonic cell, which they say could theoretically become a human being."
Question to readers: assuming that this is a real breakthrough, will it sway a sufficient number of stem cell opponents to render the debate moot?
Your photo sequences of the day
Then click here.
So much for the single-payer utopia
I've said repeatedly on this blog that health care policy puts me to sleep most of the time. I usually stay awake long enough, however, to hear many left-of-center colleagues praise the Canadian single-payer system to no end.
Which is why I bring up this New York Times story by Christopher Mason:
A doctor who operates Canada’s largest private hospital in violation of Canadian law was elected Tuesday to become president of the Canadian Medical Association. The move gives an influential platform to a prominent advocate of increasing privatization of Canada’s troubled taxpayer-financed medical system.Before I doze off, do check out Megan McArdle's recent health care post as well.
That said, I should also acknowledge that this is hardly the uniform view of left-of-center policy analysts. For critiques of the Canadian system from Democrats, see this post by Ezra Klein.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Wikipedia vs. Brittanica
Wikipedia has been able to generate so much content -- 1,000,000 in English, compared to 120,000 for Britannica -- precisely because it has so few rules. As Americans know, it is very dangerous to put limits on free speech when that is the essence of what makes you great. Yet some limits are necessary....
There's more than one way to measure economic prosperity
Following up on recent posts about economic inequality and Wal-Mart, it should be noted that Virginia Postrel has a great column in Forbes about how government figures likely underestimate the welfare gains among the bottom half of the income ladder:
Nowadays, candid and intelligent people--not to mention partisans--tell us that the average American's standard of living has barely budged in decades. Supposedly only the rich are living better, while everyone else stagnates or falls behind.Which brings us to Wal-Mart:
Price indexes also haven't kept up with changes in what consumers buy and when and where they shop. Wal-Mart's share of the U.S. grocery market is more than a fifth and is growing. Wal-Mart and other superstores charge up to 27% less for food than traditional supermarkets, estimate economists Jerry Hausman of MIT and Ephraim Leibtag of the Department of Agriculture. But the BLS doesn't factor those lower prices into its inflation estimates. It simply assumes that Wal-Mart's price reflects worse service, and ignores the savings.
Blog debate on government policy and income inequality
Let me recap the blog debate over the extent to which government policy is responsible for increases in income inequality in recent decades, set off by this Paul Krugman column from last week.
That Lopez Obrador has an interesting political strategy
Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s strategy to reverse the results in Mexico's presidential election is starting to confuse me. Consider this Financial Times story by Adam Thomson:
Ever since Mr López Obrador, leftwing candidate in the election for president on July 2, lost by a razor-thin 244,000 votes to Felipe Calderón of the ruling centre-right National Action party, he has been “fighting to save democracy”....If this Bloomberg report by Patrick Harrington and Adriana Arai is accurate, the sit-in in Mexico City cost his party votes in Chiapas.
If Lopez Obrador knows that his "permanent protest" campaign is causing him to lose support, and there is no indication that the protests to date are affecting the legal part of the electoral process, how is this Mexican standoff going to end?
Monday, August 21, 2006
Who's going to McCain McCain?
John M. Broder has a story in today's New York Times on John McCain's efforts to monopolize GOP operatives and policy wonks in preparation for 2008:
Senator John McCain is locking up a cast of top-shelf Republican strategists, policy experts, fund-raisers and donors, in a methodical effort to build a 2008 presidential campaign machine, drawing supporters of President Bush despite the sometimes rocky history between the two men....McCain's list includes a fair number of foreign policy heavyweights -- a telling sign of front-runner status.
This leads to the obvious question -- who's going to play the role of insurgent outsider to McCain's front-runner? At some point, there has to be a media boomlet for a candidate other than McCain. [But the media loves McCain!!--ed. They love a good horse race a lot more... besides, this allows reporters to push the "McCain has changed" meme in the way that rock enthusiasts talk about how they only like early Nirvana.] This candidate will inevitably be painted as an authentic straight-shooter who is somehow more "authentic" than McCain.
According to Greg Mankiw, the only other Republican with an active Tradesports market is Giuliani. While it would be hard to picture neither the frontrunner nor the challenger coming from the Christian conservative wing of the party, it's hardly unprecedented -- look at 1996 or 1988.
Readers are encouraged to offer who they believe will be McCain's McCain. My money is on this man.
Sunday, August 20, 2006
The muted power of transnational capital
If the International Whaling Commission is my favorite international governmental organization, then my favorite international non-governmental organization would have to be the TransAtlantic Business Dialogue. Why? Because despite the impressive membership roster, this group does not appear to accomplish all that much. On issues like data privacy or genetically modified foods, the TABD has repeatedly issued stern proclamations with no effect on the outcome.
Which is why I am unmoved by this Financial Times story by Stephanie Kirchgaessner
Citigroup chairman Charles Prince has urged President George W. Bush to reinvigorate multilateral trade discussions and “identify a way forward” on the Doha round of trade talks.After such a proclamation, any good Marxist would predict that Doha would be reborn. And, as usual, they will likely be wrong.
UPDATE: Henry Farrell disagrees:
I think Dan is wrong here. The main reason that the TABD isn’t very influential in the grand scheme of things is that it doesn’t need to be. Business leaders on both sides of the Atlantic have plenty of access to policy makers without any need to go through the formalities of the TABD....Henry's point that multinationals have access to policymakers beyond the TABD is well-taken. That said, I do think the failure of transnational capital to pry open the transatlantic market poses a greater challenge to structural Marxists than Henry asserts. To be sure, there are political economy arguments that explain the collapse of Doha and other transatlantic trade frictions as placating agribusiness and other forms of national capital. But these kind of political economy arguments do not mesh well with this part of the Communist Manifesto:
The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connexions everywhere.
Saturday, August 19, 2006
The power and politics of blogs in the New York Times
Many readers will find this Adam Liptak story in the New York Times on the legal reaction to the NSA surveillance decision interesting because of the near-unanimity among "legal experts" that the judge's legal reasoning in the case was poor.
Some readers will be interested in the story because, as Ann Althouse points out, it contradicts the NYT editorial from the previous day.
This would seem to be a classic case of bloggers from different ideological stripes using their first-mover advantage to developing a common frame on an event, which is then picked up by the mainstream media.
Friday, August 18, 2006
Open JonBenet thread
It's a Friday, it's late August, and I'm technically on vacation. For these reasons, I'm just going to create this JonBenet Ramsey killer thread, walk away from the computer, and let anyone who's still online on this lovely August day a chance to wallow.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go wash my hands.
Where's the raggedy edge of Red Sox Nation?
In anticipation of this weekend's five-game series between the Red Sox and Yankees, John Branch has an entertaining article in the New York Times on trying to find the dividing line between Red Sox Nation and Yankee Country in my home state of Connecticut:
The idea for this exercise was simple in design but complicated in application: Plot the length of the border between Red Sox Nation and Yankees Country, a sort of Mason-Dixon Line separating baseball’s fiercest rivals, who will play five games in the next four days in Boston.I do find it interesting that the Times has the border further south than I remember from my childhood, when it ran right through the Farmington Valley. This does make me wonder if the border has shifted southwards in recent years.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
The Democratic Party vs. Wal-Mart
In the New York Times, Adam Nagourney and Michael Barbaro have a story on how the Democratic Party has arrived at a new bogeyman -- Wal-Mart:
Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, a likely Democratic presidential candidate in 2008, delivered a 15-minute, blistering attack to warm applause from Democrats and union organizers here on Wednesday. But Mr. Biden’s main target was not Republicans in Washington, or even his prospective presidential rivals.Biden's comment here is revealing in how the Dems want to frame the debate -- they think Wal-Mart's greatest impact is as an employer. Most (thought not all) economists, I suspect, see Wal-Mart's greatest impact as lowering the costs of consumption for Americans who frequent their stores -- including the middle class.
Under Lee Scott, chief executive, the company has in the past year expanded beyond the usual realm of corporate lobbying to wage a fully-fledged campaign in the mainstream of American politics. “When a company is as large as ours, we’re certainly going to have a lot of interaction with both politics and government,” says Bob McAdam, vice-president of corporate affairs.Two questions to readers:
A) Who's going to win this battle over the next few years?UPDATE: Well, I think it's safe to describe Andy Young as a loser in this battle.
The neoliberal Hugo Chavez
The New York Times runs an amusing story on the growth in bilateral trade between Hugo Cavez's Venezuela and George Bush's America. Some highlights:
[E]ven as the talk from Caracas and Washington grows more hostile and the countries seem to be growing ever farther apart, trade between Venezuela and the United States is surging.
New blogger on the scene!!
Iran's president has launched a Web log, using his first entry to recount his poor upbringing and ask visitors to the site if they think the United States and Israel want to start a new world war.Here's a link to Ahmadinejad's first post, which ends by confessing, "I will continue this topic later on as it took long in the beginning. From now onwards, I will try to make it shorter and simpler."
To which I can only say, as a fellow blogger, good God, yes.
The blog is worth checking out for Ahmadinejad's... interesting interpretation of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomenei's post-revolution strategy of political inclusion.
Surprisingly, Ahmadinejad's poll shows a bare majority disagreeing with the contention that "the US and Israeli intention and goal by attacking Lebanon is pulling the trigger for another word (sic) war."
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
A cost/benefit analysis of the Pakistan alliance
In the Wall Street Journal, Shalid Shah has a good story chronicling the tradeoffs of the U.S. alliance with Pakistan:
Pakistan's cooperation in foiling last week's terror plot shows the benefits to the U.S. of good relations with its South Asian ally. But the case of Safdar Sarki shows that such ties also have complications.Bush's agenda for global democracy promotion seems dormant to me, but this case does highlight the difficulty of pursuing an "transformative" strategy of regime change while trying to maximize intelligence-gathering.
Monday, August 14, 2006
What happens in the Middle East now?
With a cease-fire ostensibly taking effect, a few things worth reading this morning.
In The New Yorker, Sy Hersh files his latest on the extent of U.S.-Israeli cooperation and expectations going into the war against Hezbollah. Like all Hersh pieces, it's difficult to parse between what's the stone-cold truth and what's being leaked to him by bureaucrats in CYA mode (these two are not necessarily mutually exclusive, mind you). Hersh is never boring however:
“The Israelis told us it would be a cheap war with many benefits,” a U.S. government consultant with close ties to Israel said. “Why oppose it? We’ll be able to hunt down and bomb missiles, tunnels, and bunkers from the air. It would be a demo for Iran.”Meanwhile, in a front-pager for the Washington Post, Edward Cody and Molly Moore assess what Americans and Israelia think about Hezbollah now:
Hezbollah's irregular fighters stood off the modern Israeli army for a month in the hills of southern Lebanon thanks to extraordinary zeal and secrecy, rigorous training, tight controls over the population, and a steady flow of Iranian money to acquire effective weaponry, according to informed assessments in Lebanon and Israel.Like Kevin Drum, I don't necesaarily have any fresh or coherent ideas to add.
Here's my question to readers: will the failure to eradicate Hezbollah cause the Bush administration to change it's approach to dealing with Iran?
Sunday, August 13, 2006
Why the academy needs a South Side fellowship
In the pages of the Boston Globe, Harvard Law professor David Barron looks at how the city of Chicago is treating big box retailers and believes it to be a good thing:
On July 25, the Chicago Board of Aldermen passed an ordinance requiring big-box retailers-those with $1 billion in sales and 90,000 square feet of shopping space in their stores-to give their employees a living wage. By 2010, the stores would have to pay workers $10 an hour and provide an additional $3 in benefits.As I've said before about this case two years ago, Chicago is acting recklessly. Erecting significant barriers against big box retailers moving into the inner city does little more to hurt the poor.
Barron seems to assume that without Wal-Mart, the whole of Chicago is this nirvana of small, quaint shopkeepers who provide a diversity of goods and services with a smile and a fair price. Having lived close to the area where Wal-Mart was planning on putting its South Side location, I can assert that Barron doesn't know what he's talking about. There are very few, "small family-run establishments" to displace. The absence of any big-box retailer between Roosevelt Rd. and 85th St. makes it fantastically difficult for the poorest members of the city of Chicago to buy low-priced goods. Barron's focus on unions and small merchants at the expense of, well, everyone else is more than a bit disconcerting.
[He's right about abstaining from tax breaks and the like, though, right?--ed. There's a valid point to be made about putting a halt to cities throwing tax breaks around like candy in a vain effort to attract corporate headquarters, manufacturing plants and the like. However, Barron's implicit economic assumption is that because cities have considerable market power, they can use it to advance the cause of good. The trouble with that argument is that anyone who has ever chatted with a Chicago alderman knows full well that good has very little to do with urban plicy.]
It might behoove some foundation to create a fellowship for enthusiasts of urban reform to spend a year on the South Side in order to get a taste of what it's actually like to live in the inner city before pontificating about policy [Would this apply to free-marketers as well?--ed. Sure.]
UPDATE: Barron responds on his blog. Key section:
I was not arguing that Chicago should pass the ordinance but rather that Chicago should have the legal power to make the policy judgment for itself. Drezner, an economist, skipped right over that distinction. (If I need a fellowship to take me to the South Side, as he suggests, then maybe he needs one to take him to law school.) Actually, though, Drezner is on to something interesting and important. He emphasizes rightly that not all city neighborhoods are the same. It might be that the city would be wise to permit bix box retail in some neighborhoods within the city on more favorable terms than others. The mayor has suggested as much, proposing that each ward be able to decide the matter for itself. It's a complex policy question, however, whether such neighborhood-based tailoring is a good idea or a bad one, and it depends a lot on the particularities of the retail market in the Chicago area. I am skeptical it is a good idea, but open to being persuaded otherwise. But, for me, the key point for now is that a city could not tailor its policy in this neighborhood-focused manner even it was a good idea for it to do so unless it had the legal power to enact such living wage ordinances at all. And that's part of the reason why I think the Chicago ordinance, if enacted, should be upheld against the home rule, equal protection, and ERISA-preemption challenges that are sure to follow.Question to readers: should a city have the right to mandate a living wage and apply that mandate asymmetrically to businesses? I suspect that for most people this depends on whether you believe a living wage is sensible policy. One could adopt a process-based position that says regardless of the stupidity of such an approach, an elected council has the right to enact such a policy. At the local level, however, on measures that impose asymmetrical barriers to entry, I strongly lean towards a combination of a public choice perspective, which is skeptical that any city-wide ordinance would actually represent something approximating the general will, and a classical liberal perspective, which would be profoundly skeptical of the city imposing property rights constraints.
Popping the bubble
The subtitle of Bubble Man symbolizes the many flaws in Peter Hartcher's jeremiad against Alan Greenspan and the dot-com hysteria that the former Federal Reserve chairman allegedly abetted. The "Missing 7 Trillion Dollars" refers to the losses that stockholders incurred in the three years after the late-1990s stock market bubble collapsed. Throughout the book, Hartcher argues that Greenspan is to blame for those losses -- until the epilogue, in which Hartcher acknowledges that in the three years after those three years, a market upswing recovered "nine dollars out of every ten lost." As Gilda Radner's Emily Litella famously put it, "Never mind."....It was difficult, in the space alloted, to list all the reasons I thought this book sucked eggs. For those who really care, do check out Steven Mufson's lengthier critique in The Washington Monthly.
Saturday, August 12, 2006
The political economy of NOCs
The Economist runs a good backgrounder (subscriber only) on national oil companies (NOCs) and their various organizational pathologies. In particular, the article identifies the central peculiarity of nationalized energy companies -- inefficiences now give them greater market leverage in the future.
If nothing else, the story places "big oil" in the proper perspective:
Exxon Mobil is the world's most valuable listed company, with a market capitalisation of $412 billion. But if you compare oil companies by how much they have left in the ground, the American giant ranks a lowly fourteenth. All 13 of the oil firms that outshadow it are national oil companies (NOCs): partially or wholly state-owned firms through which governments retain the profits from oil production.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Gonna be a fun month to fly
Congrats to all involved on foiling that terror plot.
And now, a very selfish request:
Please, please, please, pretty please, pretty please with sugar on top, allow things to calm down enough so that next month when I have to fly to and from the UK, these travel restrictions are no longer in place.UPDATE: Although the media reaction has focused on this latest plot as an example of the vitality of terrorists, I tend to agree with much of this Stratfor analysis:
There are four takeaway lessons from this incident:
If there was a stock market for cabinet officers....
Then Condi Rice's stock would be going down, while Henry Paulson's stock would be slowly rising. Whether that's fair is another question.
The New York Times runs stories about both of them, and the tone of the stories is pretty different.
Helene Cooper's piece on Rice suggests that she's a prisoner of bureaucratic politics:
As Ms. Rice has struggled with the Middle East crisis over the last four weeks, she has found herself trying to be not only a peacemaker abroad but also a mediator among contending parties at home.In contrast, Steven Weisman's piece on Paulson suggests a man surmounting the push and pull of different bureaucracies:
Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. has spent his first weeks in office seeking to assert control within the administration over international economic issues, focusing in particular on developing a new plan to confront China’s growing economic clout, administration officials say.Are these perceptions fair? Maybe. But buried within both stories are facts suggesting that these perceptions have more to do with the intrinsic difficulties of the policy problems at hand rather than the relative competencies of Rice and Paulson.
For example, there's this in the Rice story:
Several State Department officials have privately objected to the administration’s emphasis on Israel and have said that Washington is not talking to Syria to try to resolve the crisis. Damascus has long been a supporter of Hezbollah, and previous conflicts between the group and Israel have been resolved through shuttle diplomacy with Syria.And there's this in the Paulson story:
Kenneth S. Rogoff, professor of public policy and economics at Harvard, said he detected a subtle shift in Chinese thinking recently. Other economists, noting the shift, say that Mr. Paulson should now take advantage of it and may do so soon.What does this information tell us? That Rice's options might be limited by external as well as internal factors, while Paulson is not. Which makes Paulson's job a heck of a lot easier.
Find a hobby for Cynthia McKinney!! Please??!!
From an Associated Press story by Errin Haines on Cynthia Mckinney's primary loss:
"Cynthia McKinney is loved nationally, locally and internationally," said Brooks, who is president of the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials. "I expect her to move to the international scene, especially as it relates to peace, justice and environmental issues. This is going to elevate her to another level."It's always nice to see Americans interested in foreign affairs -- but I'm not entirely sure that this is the best use of McKinney's .... er... talents.
Readers are encouraged to offer Rep. McKinney career advice that does not involve her entering the "international scene."
Please? Pretty please?
Wednesday, August 9, 2006
Day of the lefties
"Among the college-educated men in our sample, those who report being left-handed earn 13 percent more than those who report being right-handed," said economist Christopher S. Ruebeck of Lafayette College. Ruebeck and his research partners, Joseph E. Harrington Jr. and Robert Moffitt of Johns Hopkins University, reported the findings in a new working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.I'll leave it to my readers to speculate on possible explanations.
The trouble with obsessing about exports
Adam Posen has a very good column in the Financial Times today (alas, subscriber only) about the folly that is focusing on export competitiveness. The highlights:
If governments want to increase their economies’ share of global production in high-value-added sectors or, better still, create new such products and sectors, then the policy goal should be to increase competitive pressure upon an economy’s own businesses. In spite of the frequently cited examples of export-led growth for some developing countries, there is mounting evidence that the benefits to growth of countries’ engagement in trade are attributable to openness. These include: the direct benefits of importing lower prices and greater variety; the efficiency gains from challenging (rather than protecting) domestic businesses; and policy choices that contribute to a broadly liberal and market-orientated framework across the economy. Exports taken on their own, the usual narrower target of competitiveness policy, are not correlated with average per capita income growth.This ties into a key political problem in reviving Doha -- the trade rounds are organized in such a way as to magnify the economic importance of exports. Edward M. Graham explained this in a op-ed last month that's worth highlighting:
[T]he notion that benefits come mostly from increased exports while increased imports are a "cost" that trade negotiators must try to minimize remains a lie. Rather, what is true is that the most immediate public benefits from a successful trade negotiation are actually created by import expansion. Such an expansion thus should be treated as a benefit—not a cost. It is via lower import prices and greater product variety that consumers benefit from trade expansion. In fact, the $287 billion of calculable benefits from the Doha Round as noted above come mostly from price reductions of imports. Indeed, almost two-thirds of this figure would result from lower prices of agricultural goods and elimination of efficiency-distorting subsidies to farmers. Much of the rest comes from lower prices of clothing. But to achieve this benefit, the trade negotiators and politicians behind them must be ready to take on the farmers and textile interests who oppose these negotiations. Moreover, the main reason the negotiations are failing is simply that trade negotiators from key "players"—the European Union, the United States, Japan, Korea, and others—are placing the interests of local farmers and textile producers over those of the general public. Farmers worldwide threaten to make noise if agricultural protection and subsidies are reduced. But the public at large seems indifferent to the possibility that a successful negotiation could lead to lower bills at the food store. Moreover, reform of trade in agricultural and textile-based goods could stimulate the export industries of some of the poorest countries.UPDATE: Mark Thoma has further thoughts.
Noam Scheiber confuses me
My specialty is in international relations and not American politics, so maybe that explains why I don't completely understand Noam Scheiber's op-ed in the New York Times on the implications of the end of Joementum:
[T]here was a time when the support of key Democratic interest groups would have more than made up for such heresies. That he could not depend on that traditional lifeline this time should be alarming even for those who hoped for his defeat.Formally, Scheiber's argument has some logic -- if an interest group holds a veto over the nomination process, and they care only that their rep take position A* on issue A, then Congressman Smith can adopt any position on issues B-Z. If the netroots have veto power, Scheiber is arguing that Smith can adopt A' rather than A*, so long as he compensates by modifiying his positions on issues B-Z such that they conform to the base's preferences.
There's only one problem with this argument, and it's contained within Scheiber's op-ed: "they care as much about style as about issues — they want Democrats to denounce Republicans loudly and stridently, and to block the administration’s agenda whenever possible." The netroots would not tolerate Congressman Smith adopting a free-trade position -- because that means cooperating with the Republicans. Indeed, since cooperation with the other party is more politically visible than one's ideological profile, this will matter a lot more.
The point is, I don't see the netroots generating more free-trade Democrats in the rust belt.
So what's it like in Northern Uganda?
Taylor Owen at Oxblog relays a first-person account from Erin Baines about negotiations to end a conflict in Uganda. You know a situation must be pretty dire when the Sudanese government is the mediator in a dispute.
Go check it out.
How the academy is efficient
Occasionally the marginal idea escapes the academy and has an impact, but by and large students just want to graduate, academics just want to be insulated from the real world, and the real world wants to be isolated from loonies who go on about how great Che Guevara was. In this light, the Academy is a very efficient mechanism, creating surplus for all.Click here to read this in context.
Tuesday, August 8, 2006
Pirates of the Malacca Strait: Lloyd's Curse
One of the low-level globalization stories that occasionally bubbles to the surface is the apparent difficulty of combating piracy in the sea lanes.
One of the world’s busiest and most hazardous shipping routes was yesterday declared to be winning its fight against piracy when Lloyd’s, the shipping insurer, dropped its war risk designation for the Malacca Strait.
James Baker's mystique and aura
The Washington Monthly runs a story by Robert Dreyfuss on the Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan group chaired by James Baker and Lee Hamilton, supported by no less than four think tanks, in order to "conduct a forward-looking, independent assessment of the current and prospective situation on the ground in Iraq, its impact on the surrounding region, and consequences for U.S. interests."
There's not much out of the ordinary about such a congressionally-created group. However, it's a testament to the times we live in -- and Baker's reputation as the ne plus ultra of power brokers -- that Dreyfuss' entire story seems dedicated to showing why this group really, really politically significant:
Since March, Baker, backed by a team of experienced national-security hands, has been busily at work trying to devise a fresh set of policies to help the president chart a new course in--or, perhaps, to get the hell out of--Iraq. But as with all things involving James Baker, there's a deeper political agenda at work as well. "Baker is primarily motivated by his desire to avoid a war at home--that things will fall apart not on the battlefield but at home. So he wants a ceasefire in American politics," a member of one of the commission's working groups told me. Specifically, he said, if the Democrats win back one or both houses of Congress in November, they would unleash a series of investigative hearings on Iraq, the war on terrorism, and civil liberties that could fatally weaken the administration and remove the last props of political support for the war, setting the stage for a potential Republican electoral disaster in 2008. "I guess there are people in the [Republican] party, on the Hill and in the White House, who see a political train wreck coming, and they've called in Baker to try to reroute the train."....I think Dreyfuss is stretching the definition of "leading foreign-policy figures in the Democratic Party" just a wee bit. The Democratic "bigwigs" on the commission are Vernon Jordan, Leon Panetta, William H. Perry, and Charles Robb. While Perry's an undisputed heavyweight, neither Jordan nor Panetta are thought of as foreign policy experts, and Robb is more of a light heavyweight. The Democrats might not have a deep foreign policy bench, but this commission is hardly going to lock the party into any position on Iraq come 2008.
Furthermore, it's not clear at all to me how Baker's commission can put a halt to the alleged scenario Dreyfuss lays out in the first quoted paragraph. Baker's commission is not going to be able to anything between now and the midterms, and after that, it doesn't matter what they do -- either the Democrats will be able to convene hearings or they won't. There's nothing mutually exclusive about holding investigative hearings on past decisions while supporting a commission to devise a way out of Iraq. Indeed, it might actually help Democrats who, having supported the war in the first place, now feel the need to sound more anti-war than Al Gore.
I do hope that Baker's group devises the perfect solution to the Iraq mess. This article is proof, however, that James Baker's gravitas is now so extreme that it badly distorts the reportage that surrounds him.
Cheaters are everywhere
Given the many doping scandals in sports like cycling and baseball, the New York Times' Dylan Loeb McClain points out that cheating exists in "mental sports" too:
Accusations of cheating at the largest tournament of the year have the chess world buzzing — and have tournament directors worried about what they may have to do to stop players from trying to cheat in the future.
Monday, August 7, 2006
Faked Reuters photos -- open thread
Comment away on the Reuters decision to withdraw all photographs by a Lebanese freelancer because he doctored his photographs to make Israeli bombing damage appear worse than it actually was -- and the role the right-wing blogosphere played in this decision.
I confess to actual shock -- I thought this kind of thing only happened when O.J. Simpson was arrested.
Two more serious thoughts:
1) Is this the tip of the iceberg or merely an isolated incident? If the former, how much misperception does such photo doctoring create about the current conflict?
Apparently, the counterinsurgency manual needs a rewrite
My Fletcher colleague Richard H. Shultz co-authors an op-ed in the New York Times the Army's efforts to develop a new manual about about counterinsurgency tactics from its experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some sobering highlights:
In today’s internal wars several different types of armed groups — not just traditional insurgents bent on changing a national regime — engage in unconventional combat. Iraq is illustrative. Those fighting American forces include a complex mix of Sunni tribal militias, former regime members, foreign and domestic jihadists, Shiite militias and criminal gangs. Each has different motivations and ways of fighting. Tackling them requires customized strategies.This part is particularly interesting:
Meeting and defeating terrorist groups requires a far deeper understanding of their factions — and the exploitation of the rifts between them. Consider how such profiling led to the demise of the Abu Nidal organization, which 20 years ago was the world’s most lethal terrorist group.An interesting question to ask is the extent to which western and Arab intelligence agencies have managed to penetrate Al Qaeda's network -- and whether such penetration is more difficult because of the Islamist nature of that organization. It might be tougher to penetrate networks where the identity rests on a theocratic foundation.
Intriguingly, this problem has the potential to cut both ways. Dexter Flikins' review of Lorenzo Wright's new book contains the following nugget of information:
Al Qaeda’s leaders had all but shelved the 9/11 plot when they realized they lacked foot soldiers who could pass convincingly as westernized Muslims in the United States. At just the right moment Atta appeared in Afghanistan, along with Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Ziad al-Jarrah and Marwan al-Shehhi, all Western-educated transplants, offering themselves up for slaughter.
Sunday, August 6, 2006
Your DVD selections for the summer
Now is normally the time of the month when the hard-working staff here at danieldrezner.com has sifted through the mountain of book submissions, and -- after debating the finer points of international relations theory in a manner that would have done Bloomsbury or the Algonquin Round Table proud -- selects the much-sought-after prize of being a Book of the Month club selection.
Well, it's August, and it's been really friggin' hot in Boston for the past week or two. This got the staff thinking -- maybe for August, entertainments should be selected that do not tax the mind in such a laborious fashion. Maybe August is the time of lighter fare.
So, without further ado, here are two DVD selections for the dog days of August.
First, for those Buffy fans in the audience, let me recommend what others have urged me to do for several years -- go out and buy the first season of Veronica Mars. The parallels between Veronica and Buffy are quite strong -- formerly-popular-and-now-mostly-alone-but-very-comely girl going to high school in a California town, battling the forces of corruption and evil.
However, Veronica is both less and more scary than Buffy. Less scary in that there are no supernatural demons in the fictional town of Neptune, and there is more than one competent and good-hearted adult in this world. More scary in that the murders, frame-ups, and other evildoings in Veronica Mars all emanate from the hearts of men and not demons -- and as such, exact a greater psychic toll on our heroine. Buffy was better at bringing the funny, but Veronica Mars nails the petty and grand cruelties of high school better than any show I've seen in quite a while.
Don't take my word for it, though. Ask Veronica Mars' biggest fanboy -- Joss Whedon:
Last year, Veronica Mars' best friend was murdered. Some months later, she was drugged at a party and raped in her sleep. Welcome to the funniest and most romantic show on TV, collected on DVD in Veronica Mars: The Complete First Season....Season two is coming out soon -- check them out so you're all caught up for season three.
If spunky heroines are not your kettle of fish, well, then let me recommend going out and buying a DVD of one of the cheesiest eighties movies you'll ever see -- yes, I speak of Road House.
Terms of Endearment. On Golden Pond. Children of a Lesser God. All these acclaimed films came out in the 1980s, but if you had to pick the one movie that best sums up the entire decade, it would be about a bouncer with a goofy name and goofier hair, notorious for spouting such oxymorons as ''pain don't hurt.'' It would be Road House. This Patrick Swayze curiosity symbolizes the excess of the '80s in pretty much every way imaginable, with some of the most awesomely ridiculous barroom-brawl scenes of all time, numerous naked bimbos, and plenty of classic bad-guy taunting (''I see you found my trophy room, Dalton. The only thing that's missing is your ass!'').Ross misses two things. The first is the hair. Swayze's hair in this move is actually more feathered than co-star Kelly Lynch. Second, he missed the most blatantly homoerotic moment in an action movie -- you'll have to see the move to understand what I mean.
The latest DVD features a commentary track from fellow Road House fan Kevin Smith. Go check it out -- and feel your brain cells wither and die.
Saturday, August 5, 2006
Mexico is about to get very interesting
Mexico's electoral body has rejected a request by left-wing candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador for a full recount of votes from July's disputed election.Reporting for the AP, Traci Carl reports that Lopez Obrador's supporters are not taking the news well:
In Mexico's central plaza, thousands of protesters watched the court session on a huge screen, chanting "Vote by vote!" and drowning out the judges' statements. Representatives of Lopez Obrador walked out of the session in protest.Lopez Obrador's party controls the Mexico City government, so there is very little chance of the city trying to clear out his supporters. What will be interesting is whether the court decision will increase protests, or whether the current sit-in has turned off former supporters. As this New York Times story by James C. McKinley, Jr. suggests, the street protests are starting to annoy people:
The blockade looks more like a fair than a protest. City workers and party members have erected enormous circus-like tents the length of the avenue. There are stages where musicians entertain the protesters, and a photo exhibit of Mr. López Obrador’s life. A volleyball net had been set up, as well as a mini soccer field.Developing....
Thursday, August 3, 2006
Drezner on Weisberg on sanctions
So when someone alerted me to Jacob Weisberg's Slate essay on sanctions yesterday, I decided to take a look.
A quick survey (of sanctions cases): We began our economic embargo against North Korea in 1950. We've had one against Cuba since 1962. We first applied economic sanctions to Iran during the hostage crisis in 1979 and are currently trying for international sanctions aimed at getting the government there to suspend uranium enrichment. We attached trade sanctions to Burma beginning in 1990 and froze the assets of Sudan beginning in 1997. President Bush ordered sanctions against Zimbabwe in 2003 and against Syria beginning in 2004. We have also led major international sanctions campaigns against regimes since brought down by force of arms: Milosevic's Yugoslavia, Saddam's Iraq, and Taliban Afghanistan.Weisberg makes a valid point -- as a general rule, applying sanctions against rogue states unless and until there is regime change tends not to work.
However, against this important point, let me throw in a few modifiers:
1) Sanctions with more specifically tailored demands can work against authoritarian regimes. The 1979 financial sanctions against Iran did play an important role in the release of the hostages. The U.S. and U.N. sanctions against Libya led that country to surrender suspects in several airline bombings -- and probably played a supporting role in Libya's decision to renounce its WMD program. So, if the sanctioning country can be precise in what it wants, and is willing to settle for less than regime change, sanctions have the potential to work. The flaw in America's sanctions policy is not their use, but the tendency to overestimate the concessions sanctions can generate.UPDATE: On sanctions policy towards Cuba in particular, see this thoughtful post from Eugene Gholz from a few months back. It pretty much matches my skepticism about both sanctions and engagement strategies towards Cuba.
Wednesday, August 2, 2006
Iris Marion Young, R.I.P.
It would be safe to say that Iris and I disagreed a fair amount on matters of politics and policy. It would also be safe to say that I really did not care. Iris was one of the more decent people I've met in the academy -- indefatigable and interested in everything. Her students -- and there were many of them -- were devoted to her.
She had been suffering from cancer for the past year or so, not that this slowed her down all that much. The way she carried herself was remarkable -- not because Iris was all bulldog determination in the face of her illness and treatment, or any such maudlin sentiment. Rather, she was cheerfully unafraid to tell you exactly how she was feeling, and doing so in a way that filtered the awkwardness out of the conversation.
She was both brave and gentle, and she will be missed.
Calling all IR scholars!!! We've got a coding problem in the Middle East!!
Guest-posting for Instapundit, Michael Totten makes a provocative statement about democratic peace theory:
This war in the Middle East nearly demolishes the theory that democracies don't go to war with each other. Lebanon, aside from Hezbollah's state-within-a-state, is a democracy. At least it's an almost-democracy. Aside from my personal affection for Lebanon, the country where I recently lived, the only country other than the US where I've ever lived, this is what anguishes me the most: The Arab world's only democracy is being torn to pieces by another democracy.Question to the IR types in the audience: is Totten right?
The "aside from Hezbollah" is an awfully big aside. It suggests that Lebanon might better be coded as a "democratizing" state rather than a stable democracy -- and Ed Mansfield and Jack Snyder have demonstrated that democratizing states are the most violent regime type.
That said, one can argue that it is Israel, the established democracy, that expanded what had been a low-level border skirmish (by IR standards) into a war.
Given Hezbollah's role as instigator, and the failure of the Lebanese army to engage the IDF, it seems hard to code this as a violation of the democratic peace proposition. And yet, labeling this case as an exception carries the whiff of fitting the data to match the hypothesis.
Let the debate commence!!
The New York Times, they like to kid
From James McKinley Jr.'s front-page story in the New York Times, "Castro Is ‘Stable,’ but His Illness Presents Puzzle":
News that Mr. Castro had relinquished power for the first time in his 47-year rule prompted expressions of concern from leftist leaders in Latin America and set off immediate celebration among Cuban exiles in Miami.I'll concede that Fidel Castro must possess some charisma and ample amounts of political skill -- he's the longest-serving leader in the world, after all.
Since when, however, does the capacity to give six-hour speeches imply "rhetorical brilliance"?
There are many words that can be used to describe Castro's rhetorical style -- and "brilliance" is nowhere close to the top of that list.
Tuesday, August 1, 2006
Dogpiling on Mel Gibson
Unlike Andrew Sullivan, I really don't have much to say about Mel Gibson's drunken, anti-Semitic, misogynist rant against the cops who pulled him over for drunken driving last week. Mostly, this is because Tim Noah framed the event pretty well in Slate:
The best case that can be made for Gibson's belief system now is that he's anti-Semitic only when he's three sheets to the wind. And really, now. Are you in the habit of declaring, "The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world" when you get pie-eyed? Or simply of muttering, "Fucking Jews"? Or of asking your arresting officer, "Are you a Jew?" (Here Gibson revealed an anti-Jewish bigotry so all-consuming that he couldn't even get his ethnic stereotypes straight. The Jews control international banking, Mel. It's the Irish who control the police.)Well, I have two more thoughts on the matter. The first is that there needs to be a term that describes the mechanism through which the New York Times manages to run stories about scandals while claiming that they are really metastories (In the past week alone, they managed a front-pager about the Tom Cruise/Katie Holmes baby as well). To their credit, however, the Times story by Allison Hope Weiner contains this juicy tidbit: "On Monday, Hope Hartman, a spokeswoman for Disney’s ABC television network, said the company was dropping its plans to produce a Holocaust-themed miniseries in collaboration with Mr. Gibson."
Second, I'll ask my readers to suggest the likelihood of the following arc taking place:
1) Gibson repeatedly issues contrite apologies -- oh, wait, that's already happened.
Sometimes there is no selection bias
After David Ortiz hit his latest walk-off home run, I kept telling myself like a good social scientist, "Yes, we remember these events, but we don't remember the times when he has the opportunity and fails." In other words, much as I love David Ortiz, I was sure that the statistics would demonstrate that his walk-off capabilities were overrated.
Turns out, in this case, that perception is reality. From The Joy of Sox:
Since the end of the 2004 regular season, Ortiz has come to the plate in a walk-off situations 19 times -- and reached base 16 times. He is 11-for-14 (.786), with 7 HR and 20 RBI.Hat tip: Gordon Edes.
UPDATE: Bill Simmons has an enertaining column comparng Ortiz to Larry Bird in terms of coming through in the clutch:
Basketball stars have a 45-50 percent chance of coming through in the clutch. In Bird's case, he was a 50 percent shooter and a 90 percent free-throw shooter, so even if he was being double-teamed, 60/40 odds seem reasonable, especially if someone raises his game in those situations. But a star slugger gets on base 40 percent of the time, only Ortiz dials it up to the 60-70 percent range in big moments (as the stats back up). I can't believe I'm saying this, but Big Papi's current three-year stretch tops anything Bird came up with simply because the odds against Ortiz were greater.Over at the Volokh Conspiracy, Ilya Somin has a discussion thread on this very important debate.